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The Sip and Sell: Drinking to Success

Posted on 04/29/14 in Professor Farbo
Romans Toasting and DrinkingNothing says success like the celebratory free flow of good champagne. Let's talk more about why we started drinking champagne at parties as well as the association between champagne and celebration. What on earth is the ritual of "toasting," and where did it come from?

Toasting the History of Champagne

Let's start by rewinding about 1500 years to the monarch of France, King Clovis, fighting to defend his region from invaders. According to legend, Clovis promised his wife Clotilde that he would convert to Christianity should he win the next battle. He was subsequently baptized in the year 496 after winning the war. The location of his baptism would become a place where French monarchs would be crowned for many centuries to come. The name of the region is Champagne.

In the Champagne region, the royal court would drink wine to celebrate each coronation. This wine was still - not fizzy - until many centuries later. The bubbles were made by live yeast cultures that had been dormant through the cold winter and became active again in the spring, consuming sugars and producing carbon dioxide. Soon enough, sparkling wine became a fixture of the region, one that merchants exported in place of wool and other commodities, eventually reaching as far as Russia and the United States.

The History of the Toast

Toasting the drink has been practiced since prehistoric times. Soon enough, the ancient Greeks were drinking to each other's health while offering tributes to their gods. In Rome, it was decreed that Emperor Augustus should receive recognition with the drink at every meal.

The term "toast" originated in England in the 16th century, later popularized by Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor, where the character Falstaff asks for a great quantity of wine with an actual piece of toast in it. This may sound strange, but soaking bread in wine was common practice at the time, an attempt to improve the flavor by removing some of the wine's acidity. How that works is unclear, as early European science is not terribly accurate.

Eventually, "toasting" began to refer to the practice of honoring people by presenting the recipient with the piece of toast. Eventually, in the 18th century, gatherings used people called Toastmasters to ensure toasting didn't spiral out of control. No one is quite sure where raising a glass originated, but it makes sense that those celebrating would raise their cups toward the gods or the person being honored before taking a sip.

Author: Robert Stillman CEO

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